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Sudan uprising: Protesters agree new talks with military, ends civil disobedience5 minutes read

The decision came after demonstrators declared their nationwide shutdown a success.

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Sudan uprising: Protesters agree new talks with military, ends civil disobedience
(File photo)

Protest leaders have agreed to end a campaign of civil disobedience launched after a deadly crackdown on demonstrators and to resume talks with Sudan’s ruling generals, an Ethiopian mediator said Tuesday.

The apparent breakthrough, which the military rulers had yet to confirm, came as a top US diplomat prepared to embark on a mission to press the generals to halt the crackdown on protesters demanding civilian rule.

Sudan has been led by a military council since it toppled autocratic president Omar al-Bashir on April 11 after months of nationwide protests against his iron-fisted rule of three decades.

Following Bashir’s removal, protesters camped outside military headquarters in Khartoum for weeks to demand civilian rule, before security and paramilitary forces dispersed them in a June 3 crackdown that killed dozens.

Related: Demonstrators killed in Sudan as military breaks sit-in

sudan uprising
Sudanese protesters burn tyres and set up barricades on roads to army headquarters after the intervention of Sudanese army, during a demonstration in Khartoum, Sudan on June 3, 2019. Mahmoud Hjaj / Anadolu Agency

The protest movement launched a campaign of civil disobedience on Sunday, and most businesses stayed closed and residents hunkered indoors for the next three days.

It had threatened to pile even more pressure on the generals by releasing a list of members for a new ruling body — the key point of dispute between the two sides.

But they agreed to end the campaign and return to talks, said an envoy of Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

Related: Ethiopian PM visits Sudan to lead talks with military, protesters

“The Alliance for Freedom and Change agreed to end the civil disobedience (campaign) from today,” Mahmoud Drir, who has been mediating between the two sides since Ahmed visited Khartoum last week.

“Both sides have also agreed to resume talks soon,” he told reporters.

The protest movement itself said in a statement that it was calling on people “to resume work from Wednesday”.

Protest ‘a success’ –

In Khartoum, the protest strike saw most shops and businesses remain closed with some companies extending to the end of the week the Eid al-Fitr holidays marking the end of Ramadan.

The paramilitary Rapid Support Forces accused of having played the lead role in last week’s crackdown patrolled districts in their trademark pickup trucks fitted with heavy machineguns.

“We are now getting used to living with guns as we are seeing so many of these men walking into restaurants with their weapons,” one resident said as a group of RSF members entered an eatery.

(Photo by Ebrahim Hamid / AFP)

In the northern district of Bahari, a hotbed of unrest where protesters had put up roadblocks in the past few weeks, most shops were closed Tuesday but there were no barricades to be seen, a correspondent reported.

Demonstrators declared their nationwide shutdown a success.

“This shows clearly what we can do, and also in a peaceful way,” said Ishraga Mohamed.

Protest leaders vowed to name a new ruling body to replace the generals.

“The Alliance for Freedom and Change will reveal its sovereign council and a prime minister in an announcement to be made at a suitable time,” the Sudanese Professionals Association, a key member of the umbrella protest movement, said late on Monday.

The crackdown came after negotiations between protest leaders and the generals collapsed late last month over who should lead the new governing body -a civilian or a soldier.

Related: Sudan: Military and protesters ‘dispute’ over council leadership

U.S. call to stop attacks –

The US assistant secretary of state for African affairs, Tibor Nagy, plans to meet both the generals and protest leaders in Khartoum, the State Department said.

He is to leave on the trip on Wednesday and also visit Addis Ababa to discuss the Sudan crisis with Ethiopian leaders and the African Union.

“He will call for a cessation of attacks against civilians and urge parties to work towards creating an enabling environment” for talks to resume, the State Department said.

The United States has led calls for a civilian-led transition even as its Arab allies Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have backed the generals.

The military-led government blamed deteriorating conditions in Khartoum on the disobedience campaign.

“We are appealing to those who blocked the roads to open them for all the sick people… since many people lost their lives because they cannot reach the hospital,” senior health ministry official Mohamed Altom told reporters.

Hollywood star and activist, George Clooney urged the international community to take action against the generals behind the crackdown.

“By creating significant financial consequences for regime leaders and their commercial collaborators, diplomats from Africa, Europe and the United States will be able to influence the cost-benefit calculus of Khartoum’s generals,” he wrote in a joint op-ed piece with former US official John Prendergast.

Meanwhile, a doctors committee linked to the protests accused the Janjaweed militia of shooting dead nine people on Monday in the Darfur region of western Sudan.

The Janjaweed, a militia accused by rights groups of widespread abuses at the height of Darfur’s conflict which started in 2003, have been absorbed in Sudan’s paramilitary Rapid Support Forces.

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UN condemns use of IEDs against civilians in Libya

“UNSMIL strongly condemns these acts, which serve no military objective, provoke extreme fear among the population, and violate the rights of innocent civilians…,” the UN said.

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A man inspects the wreckage of a car outside the Khadra General Hospital which is dedicated to treating people infected with coronavirus (COVID-19) in the Libyan capital Tripoli on April 8, 2020, after it was targeted by forces loyal to Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar. (Photo by Mahmud TURKIA / AFP)

The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) has condemned the use of improvised explosive devices against civilians in the southern part of Tripoli, as the armed conflict between the east-based army and the UN-backed government continues.

UNSMIL “is extremely concerned about reports that residents of the Ain Zara and Salahuddin areas of Tripoli have been killed or wounded by improvised explosive devices placed in or near their homes,” UNSMIL said in a statement Monday.

“UNSMIL strongly condemns these acts, which serve no military objective, provoke extreme fear among the population, and violate the rights of innocent civilians who must be protected under international humanitarian law,” the statement said.

UNSMIL called on all individuals to “seek information and heed security advice to stay away from areas that have not been declared safe to enter by a competent authority or items of unknown origin which may be explosive devices”.

UNSMIL also commended the search and clearance work by Libyan Police and Military Engineers, reaffirming its continued support to Libyan partners, communities, and stakeholders “who are working tirelessly to rid Libya of the threat of explosive remnant of war (ERW)”.

The UN-backed government’s forces accused the rival east-based army of planting mines before withdrawing from conflict areas in southern Tripoli.

Since April 2019, the east-based army has been leading a military campaign attempting to take over Tripoli and topple the UN-backed government.

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Strike looms as public sector wage dispute enters arbitration in South Africa

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The ongoing face-off between workers in the public sector and the South African government continues. According to the Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC), disagreement between the trade unions and government has moved the talks to arbitration for further hearing.

PSCBC General Secretary, Frikkie De Bruin explains that the arbitration hearings will begin by mid-June. An arbitrator will issue an award after the hearings are complete, with the matter potentially heading to court or resulting in a strike if the unions aren’t happy.

Ordinarily, public sector workers make up a third of South Africa’s expenditure. But with the coronavirus lockdown and income reduction, Pretoria seems unwilling to incur more debt.

If not handled carefully to appease the workers, the ruling African National Congress, (ANC) could lose its political dominance in the next local elections.

If no resolution is reached and the workers decide to resolve it an industrial action, it could erode all effort made by the government in the fight against the coronavirus.

The dispute started in February when the government affirmed that it could not fulfil its 2018 agreement on a three-year wage agreement.

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Ethiopia to divest 40% of Ethio Telecom

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The Ethiopian government is finalizing plans to sell a 40 percent stake in Ethio Telecom- the country’s sole telecommunication provider . The plan was announced by Ethiopia’s State Minister of Finance, Eyob Tekalign Tolina.

Ethiopia’s telecommunication industry is considered one of the last closed markets. It has been one of the government’s plans to liberalize the country’s economy launched by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. Ethio Telecom has a large market serving a population of around 110 million.

The government will retain ownership of the remaining 60 percent.

Foreign firms in the telecom sector will be invited to bid and a percentage of the minority stake will be sold to Ethiopian citizens. South Africa’s MTN and Kenya’s Safaricom have shown interest in expanding into Ethiopia in the past.

Ethiopia’s communications regulator says the country would proceed with the privatisation of the telecommunications sector despite the novel coronavirus outbreak.

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